We are already in the middle of the season and lots of you have already taken your kids to see Santa Claus and even decorated your tree. What else can you do with your kids to make simple, fun memories? I have a few ideas:
String It - Stringing popcorn and cranberries for your tree is a tradition that has been replaced with just hanging store bought garland, however, kids like to make things and having them "string" something can keep them busy for a bit. Let's be real for a minute, though. Popcorn can be difficult for an adult to string without breaking the kernels and who wants red stain on their hands from cranberries? What I did with my kids when they were small was have them string Cheerios on yarn! At the end of a piece of yarn (however long you think your child can manage without tying themselves up in a mess) tie a Cheerio. Then, the kids can use either a very large tapestry needle (no sharp end) or even just their fingers to string on more Cheerios! You could use colored Fruit Loops, but, having something with sugar on your tree might cause an issue with warm lights, pets or other pests. (Or you can always spray the string with a clear coat of acrylic spray to seal them, if you like).
Color & Paint It - Another thing I had my kids do was to create wrapping paper. I took paper grocery bags, pulled them apart, and had the kids paint, or color, different Christmas things or even just color a design of their own choosing on the paper. Later, I would use the paper to wrap gifts for them and for others--or we'd leave the paper for SANTA to use on their gifts! Sponge painting was easy and fun with this project, too. ***If you can't find paper grocery sacks, you can get a roll of butcher paper or white paper from a craft store and let the kids go to town on that as well!
Ornament Fun - You can always use an extra ornament for your tree, especially when one is made with your kids. There are so many different kits you can use, dough recipes where you can cut out cookie shapes, let them dry, then paint them, or other little crafty things you can do. You can buy tiny wreaths and decorate them with buttons, ribbons and lace or even beads on pipe cleaners and make candy canes! I've even had grand kids just glue glitter on a piece of paper and turn that into an ornament. You can go as elaborate or as simple as you would like. I still have some ornaments I made as a kid and some others that my mother helped me with years ago. Bringing those out every year brings me fond memories every time, too.
In the Kitchen - Another thing that can be fun to do is make different goodies in the kitchen for the holiday season. Cookies are always fun. You can go all out and make sugar cookies with colored frosting or just dip pretzels in melted white chocolate, then sprinkle with colored candy sprinkles! You can even use store bought flavored dough, cutting it into 24 pieces and place those pieces of dough into a mini muffin tin. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, plop a small candy treat in the center. Easy to do, fun to eat and not a ton of mess! Best kind of kitchen project to do!
And for Winter Break - When the kids are home for winter break and bored (even though they have new stuff to play with) have them make hand made thank yous for others for all the wonderful things they got at Christmas, or even just for the fun times they had a friends and family get-togethers. Also, you can have them make a list of things they would like to accomplish in the New Year. It can also be fun to have an "Un-Decorate" party with them. Afterwards, order a pizza for everyone!
Of course, it's always good to just enjoy the time you have with your family. Watching holiday movies together with hot chocolate and yummy goodies, all snuggled up, or going for a ride looking at Christmas lights together can be some of the most fun things to do the whole season. You don't need a lot of money, or be great at crafts. It's all about creating memories for all of you, so use your imagination and see what you can do this holiday season!--Jen Lush